Middlesbrough shock Chelsea in Carabao Cup semifinal first leg

Middlesbrough shock Chelsea in Carabao Cup semifinal first leg

Chelsea experienced an unexpected 1-0 defeat against second-tier Middlesbrough in the first leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday, as Hayden Hackney's goal left Mauricio Pochettino's side with a significant task in the return match.

The 21-year-old Hackney's elegant finish, courtesy of an Isaiah Jones pass, surprised Chelsea in the 37th minute at the Riverside Stadium. Assisted by Australian goalkeeper Tom Glover, the hosts defended admirably, securing a narrow advantage to take back to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea, despite dominating possession, fell victim to their own shortcomings. Cole Palmer, notably, missed two clear chances in the first half. Boro, who clinched the trophy in 2004, had counter-attack opportunities to extend their lead but will head to London with confidence in their ability to reach Wembley.

Facing boos from some of their own fans at the final whistle, Chelsea's players have the opportunity to redeem themselves in the second leg on Jan. 23. The other semi-final sees Liverpool hosting Fulham on Wednesday.

Pochettino's first season with Chelsea has been marked by inconsistency, exemplified by Tuesday's struggle against Michael Carrick's injury-plagued Boro. Despite 18 goal attempts, Chelsea lacked finishing quality and displayed defensive vulnerabilities.

Pochettino acknowledged the mistakes, stating, "We made some mistakes in the first half and gave them chances to score." Carrick, a former Manchester United and England midfielder, hailed the victory as exceptional, considering the challenges his team faced with injuries.

Boro began energetically but faced early changes due to injuries. Chelsea's Palmer missed crucial opportunities, allowing Boro to take the lead through Jones and Hackney. Despite Chelsea's second-half ball dominance, they failed to penetrate Boro's resolute defense.

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